The Main Arm community came together on Sunday, along with emergency services, to reflect on what has happened, how the community responded and the way forward. For some this was the first time they had been able to get out, on foot, from their homes.
The community team, headed by Wendy Brown and Zali Spinner, were able to respond to the community needs as the floods devastated the area cutting off roads and access.
The organisers of the community response praised the Rural Fire Service (RFS) who had ‘been with us every step of the way’ and Byron Council engineers for their unwavering support and commitment to getting access back for the Upper Main Arm and Palmwoods communities in record time. The team of volunteers were clear that they are now transitioning from the emergency response to the recovery phase and highlighted the excellent way the police, Australian Defence Force (ADF) and State Emergency Services (SES) had worked with them to support the community led team.
Steve Patterson the NSW SES Commander for the Northern Zone said ‘I cannot put into words how truly sensational you are as a resilient community. From what I’ve seen in my career this is gold standard, this is it. Rarely do we get a chance to see a resilient community in action and it is truly sensational. This is a really unprecedented event.’
There have been numerous landslips in Main Arm and Wilsons Creek and ADF are currently assisting with geotech services to assess landslip areas and risks of further slips. Community organisers are asking locals not to give them extra tasks and direction as it ‘needs to be coordinated through them and the relevant agencies.’
What do you need?
Resilience NSW’s Myles O’Reilly who has been setting up the Ballina and Mullumbimby Recovery Centres told the community that ‘What I need from you is to tell us what you need. We are here for the long haul of recovery. We intend to come in and provide wrap-around structures that you tell us you need.’